Jessica Stephenson

  • Assistant Professor
  • Disease ecology


Office: (412) 648-4182
403B Clapp Hall
4249 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

I am interested in the factors that influence infectious disease transmission in natural populations. For directly transmitted parasites, transmission between conspecific hosts is largely determined by host social behavior. My research focuses on how biotic and abiotic conditions modify this social behavior. I am currently using the guppy and its gyrodactylid parasites to investigate how changes in these ecological conditions, and hence transmission, may drive evolutionary change in both the host and parasite. I am particularly interested in:

  1. How variation between host individuals affects transmission through groups
  2. Whether the parasite can respond to this variation between hosts to maximize its fitness
  3. How the community in which the host and parasite are found naturally might affect their interaction, and evolutionary trajectory

For more information, please see my lab website.

L. C. Naisbett-Jones*, N. F. Putman*,&n

L. C. Naisbett-Jones*, N. F. Putman*, J. F. Stephenson, S. Ladak, K. A. Young. 2017. Magnetic map leads juvenile European eels to the Gulf Stream. Current Biology. 27: 1-5. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.03.015

J. F. Stephenson, K. A. Young,

J. F. Stephenson, K. A. Young, J. Fox, J. Jokela, J. Cable, S. E. Perkins. 2017. Host heterogeneity affects both parasite transmission to and fitness on subsequent hosts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 372: 20160093. doi:10.1098/rstb.2016.0093

J. F. Stephenson, M. Reyn

J. F. Stephenson, M. Reynolds. 2016. Imprinting can cause a maladaptive preference for infectious conspecifics. Biology Letters 12: 20160020. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2016.0020

J. F. Stephenson, C. Kinsella,

J. F. Stephenson, C. Kinsella, J. Cable, C. van Oosterhout. 2016. A further cost for the sicker sex? Evidence for male-biased parasite-induced vulnerability to predation. Ecology and Evolution 6 (8): 2506-2515. doi:10.1002/ece3.2049

J. F. Stephenson. 2016. K

J. F. Stephenson. 2016. Keeping eyes peeled: guppies exposed to chemical alarm cue are more responsive to ambiguous visual cues. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 70: 575-584. doi:10.1007/s00265-016-2076-4

J. F. Stephenson, C. van

J. F. Stephenson, C. van Oosterhout, J. Cable. 2015. Pace of life, predators and parasites: predator-induced life-history evolution in Trinidadian guppies predicts decrease in parasite tolerance. Biology Letters 11: 20150806. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2015.0806

J. F. Stephenson, C. van

J. F. Stephenson, C. van Oosterhout, R. S. Mohammed, J. Cable. 2015. Parasites of Trinidadian guppies: evidence for sex- and age-specific trait-mediated indirect effects of predators. Ecology 96 (2): 489–498. doi:10.1890/14-0495.1

J. F. Stephenson. 2014. T

J. F. Stephenson. 2014. The experimental evolution of parasite resistance in wild guppies: artificial selection, resource availability and predation pressure. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281 (1794): 20140541.doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.0541

J. Cable, G. A. Archard, R. S. Mohammed, M. McM

J. Cable, G. A. Archard, R. S. Mohammed, M. McMullan, J. F. Stephenson, H. Hansen, C. van Oosterhout. 2013. Can parasites use predators to spread between primary hosts? Parasitology 140 (9): 1138-1143. doi:10.1017/S003118201300067X

C. van Oosterhout, R. S. Mohammed, R. Xavier,&n

C. van Oosterhout, R. S. Mohammed, R. Xavier, J. F. Stephenson, G. A. Archard, F. A. Hockley, S. E. Perkins, J. Cable. 2013. Invasive freshwater snails provide resource for native marine hermit crabs. Aquatic Invasions 8 (2): 185-191. doi:10.3391/ai.2013.8.2.06

J. F. Stephenson. 2012. T

J. F. Stephenson. 2012. The chemical cues of male sea lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis encourage others to move between host Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. Journal of Fish Biology 81 (3), 1118-1123. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.2012.03347.x

J. F. Stephenson, K. E. W

J. F. Stephenson, K. E. Whitlock, J. C. Partridge. 2012. Food and conspecific chemical cues modify the visual behavior of zebrafish,Danio rerio. Zebrafish 9 (2), 68-73. doi:10.1089/zeb.2012.0734.

J. F. Stephenson, J. C. P

J. F. Stephenson, J. C. Partridge, K. E. Whitlock. 2011. Zebrafish preference for light or dark is dependent on ambient light levels and olfactory stimulation. Zebrafish 8 (1), 17-22. doi:10.1089/zeb.2010.0671.

K. A. Young, J. B. Dunham, J. F. S

K. A. Young, J. B. Dunham, J. F. Stephenson, A. Terreau, A. Thially, G. Gajardo, C. Garcia de Leaniz. 2010. A trial of two trouts: comparing the impacts of rainbow and brown trout on a native galaxiid. Animal Conservation 13 (4), 399-410. doi:10.1111/j.1469-1795.2010.00354.x

K. A. Young, J. F. Stephenson,

K. A. Young, J. F. Stephenson, A. Terreau, A. Thially, G. Gajardo, C. Garcia de Leaniz. 2008. The diversity of exotic salmonids does not affect their competitive impact on a native galaxiid. Biological Invasions 11 (8), 1955-1961. doi:10.1007/s10530-008-9372-5.
Dr. Stephenson received her Ph.D. in 2015 with Joanne Cable at Cardiff University, spent a postdoctoral fellowship with Jukka Jokela and Consuelo de Moraes at ETH Zürich, and joined the department in summer 2018.